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Full text of "NightRider"

his glance. Mr. Christian was telling some tale, leaning
forward with his hands on his spread knees and his arms
bowed out like a bulldog's legs. His glass was on the floor
beside him. Lucille Christian was regarding her father with
an air of affectionate amusement, which made Mr. Munn,
for the first time, become aware of a real liking for her. The
boy, he noticed, was looking at her too. Then he turned
back to Mr. Munn. " Lucille told me—Miss Christian, that
is—she told me about the first big rally when they organized
the Association. I wish I'd been here last summer and heard
your speech. She told me about your speech. It was wonder-
ful, she said. She said everybody thought it was wonderful.
Her father and Senator Tolliver. Everybody."

"It was an accident/' Mr. Munn said. An accident, he
thought. And the substance of that moment when he had
stood wordless on the platform that day before all those
people was powerfully and immediately in his mind: the
enormous emptiness of the swinging, incandescent blue
depth of the sky, the emptiness, tugging like an abyss, of all
these faces lifted under the beating light, the dryness of his
own throat. And the old man whose face he had seen below the
platform. Yes, an accident And an accident that I'm here
aow, he decided. And looking across the big, pleasant room
with its soft carpet and fine furnishings and at the leaping
firelight and the known faces, he was aware how strong
accident was—how here he was, warmed and fed and sur-
rounded by these people who, if he spoke a single word,
would turn pleasantly to him, and how cold it was snowing
outside, all the countryside filling up with snow that would
blind all familiar contours, and how but for the accidents
which were his history he might be out there, or elsewhere,
miserable, lost, unbefriended. How anyone might be. That
thought made the room, and all in it seem suddenly insub-
stantial, like a dream. The bottom might drop out; it was
fo>ppbg out even while you looked, maybe. He shook his
bead, as though in a dismissal, and turning to the boy,
repeated, "It was an accident."